Assistant Science Operation Specialist

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Wednesday, February 22, 2023
Archive Date: 
Wednesday, March 22, 2023
The upcoming date less then 1 day.
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Scientific/Technical Staff
Institution Classification/Type: 
United States of America
Job Announcement Text: 

The NSF’s National Optical Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory (NOIRLab) has an immediate opening for an Assistant Science Operations Specialist to work with the international Gemini Observatory, within the NOIRLab Telescope Operations division. The successful candidate will join our international team operating two of the world’s premier ground-based telescopes in Hawaii and Chile. We are looking for a talented individual to become part of NOIRLab’sTelescope Operations Division at Gemini North in Hawai`i.

We seek an individual who can thrive in a culturally diverse environment. The Assistant Science Operations Specialist is a member of the Science Operations Team and performs a number of essential duties in the Observatory’s operation.  The successful applicant will have demonstrated organizational and communication skills and possess initiative and the ability to understand the principles and functions of astronomical telescopes, instruments and observational data in acquiring proficiency.  The successful applicant will also possess excellent teamwork skills in order to work collaboratively with Gemini staff in our international community.

The Gemini North telescope is largely operated from the base facility in Hilo, but occasionally duties may take place at the summit of Mauna Kea, at an altitude of about 4200m. Hilo is the largest city of Hawaii, Located on the northeastern side of the island of Hawaii, it offers breathtaking natural beauty with a population of about 45,000, has a warm climate, and a substantial international astronomical community.

The SOS essential job duties include the following:

  • Operates the telescope, instruments and computer systems during night-time and day-time science and engineering use.
  • Performs queue observing and assists visiting and staff scientists and engineers in their use of the telescope, instruments and computer systems.
  • Evaluates the quality of scientific data and provides operational, technical and archival support for data handling.
  • Works independently on special projects aligned with Observatory goals.
  • Is responsible for the safety of the personnel, telescope and instruments while working at night.                                         
  • This position does not include time nor funding for personal research.

Job Requirements:

  • Must be willing to work weekends and holidays as needed. Schedule is subject to change and varies by person within the group based on their responsibilities.
  • Ability to work night shifts.
  • Responsible for the safety of people and equipment while working at night.
  • Excellent organizational and communication skills as well as the ability to learn quickly required. Must be fluent in English, while command of the Spanish language is an advantage.
  • Reliable, dependable, and flexible - excellent attendance and commitment to work scheduled shifts is necessary.
  • Must be a self-learner and self-starter; requires above-average initiative.
  • Requires outstanding judgment and ability to communicate clearly and firmly when issues of safety of personnel or the telescope are apparent.
  • Ability to work productively in a multinational team.
  • A good working knowledge of PyRAF/IRAF, Python, and the Unix/Linux operating system is preferred.
  • Requires prior experience in operation of large telescopes.
  • Requires a valid driver’s license, clean driving record and the ability to drive 4WD vehicles.

Education Required:

Qualified candidates will have a Master’s degree in physics, astronomy, computer science, engineering or a closely related field and at least three years of hands-on experience of operating or observing with large ground-based optical/ IR telescopes, or with reducing and analyzing the data from such facilities. Exceptional/ extensive observing experience may substitute for a science or engineering degree. 

Other Requirements:

All AURA employees are responsible for the proper management and control of all AURA property within their work area, whether assigned to them or someone else. This responsibility includes reporting any known missing, stolen, or non-working property in their work area to their supervisor or the AURA Property Officer.

Responsible for ensuring compliance with government award terms and conditions assigned to this position or subordinates of this position as defined in the Vela Award Management system.

Physical Demands:

The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

  • While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to sit; use hands to finger, handle, or feel and talk or hear.
  • The employee is occasionally required to stand; walk; reach with hands and arms and stoop; kneel; crouch; or crawl.
  • The employee must regularly lift and /or move up to 10 pounds and occasionally lift and/or move up to 25 pounds.
  • Specific vision abilities required by this job include close vision, depth perception and ability to adjust focus.
  • Must possess - sufficient mobility, strength, or dexterity in both arms and hands and both legs to a) reach upward, sideways, downward to work with paper files; b) sufficient mobility and dexterity to utilize computer systems, fax machines, copiers, and other office machines.
  • Must possess – 1) ability to read and understand instructions, drawings, safety guides, and other written materials necessary to perform job; 2) sufficient visual capacity to perform the applicable functions without assistance of visual aids other than eye contacts or eye glasses; 3) sufficient spoken aural capacity to hear and understand instructions, warning bells, fire alarms, or shouted instructions without assistance of auditory aids other than a hearing aid; and 4) ability to impart information orally so that others understand and can respond appropriately.
  • Must be able to operate a four-wheel drive vehicle on rough roads in mountainous terrain.
  • Must be willing to support observing systems after normal working hours.
  • Some travel may be necessary in or outside the United States.
  • For summit work, consider: Ability to work at 4200 m for Maunakea.

If you would like to apply for this opportunity, please submit your CV/Resume along with a Cover Letter in English and submit all documents as PDF files, named with the following format: Lastname_Docname.pdf (where Docname is CoverLetter, CV or Resume).  Please also append a list of 3 professional references, with contact information, to your Cover Letter.  References will be contacted at a later stage in the recruitment.

For full consideration, applications should be received by March 22, 2023.

AURA offers an excellent benefits package including paid time off and retirement plan contributions, competitive salary commensurate with experience, and a very attractive work environment.

Details on benefits can be found at

COVID-19 Policy Update: AURA has implemented a mandatory vaccination policy that requires all employees to be vaccinated including being up to date on boosters, unless qualified for an exemption based on medical or religious reasons.  All new employees will be required to comply with this policy and will be required to present proof of full vaccination or submit a completed request (including supporting documents, if applicable) for an exemption at least five (5) business days prior to their start of employment.  Individuals who fail to meet this deadline may have their employment start date delayed. 

This is a requirement for all employees working onsite or from home (telework or hybrid remote work schedule).  Currently the vaccination requirement does not apply to any future AURA employees working in Chile, regardless of their nationality or type of contract.

Application Deadline: 
Wednesday, March 22, 2023
Current Status of Position: 
Accepting Applicants
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Attention To: 
AURA Human Resources
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